Finding the way forward

The last week has been brutal. I haven’t touched my cards since the election (and the subsequent email from Kellie Leitch up here in Canada – we are far from safe, far from clear of the poison of white supremacy and xenophobia and misogyny and racism and hate).

have been working. A lot.

My coaching page is up on Facebook – you can find it here – and I’m posting daily self-care tips. I’m working on content for upcoming workshops and getting my website ready to launch. I have a business account, my business name is registered, and I’m prepping hard for an official launch in the new year.

But it’s been a rough week. Holy wow, it’s been a rough week.

This morning I finally felt centred enough to do some tarot.

I did my favourite five card spread. First, the situation, then the right path and the wrong path, then cards for why each path is what it is.

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So, the situation. The Wheel of Fortune, reversed. Big, bad change. Cataclysmic change.

The right path: The Fool. Moving forward, having faith, taking risks. Foolish bravery. And, for me, this is my heart card. This is the card that comes up again and again when I need a reminder to be true to myself. So, risk-taking, movement, leaps of faith, and being who I am. I will not retreat into a closet again. I will be wide open to this world, even when it’s turning to the dark.

Why: Page of Cups. Because this is where I will find the “well of love,” as Beth Maiden at Little Red Tarot calls this card. This is where I will find:

a sort of making-it-right quality. And within that, I find an accepting-wrongdoing quality. Because accepting and trying to heal our mistakes is an act of love, and a creative act. It requires us to look into ourselves for that well of love, and put aside self-motivated, petty, angry thoughts.

It’s a hard ask in a time when I want to be angry and petty. (And, to be clear, I think there absolutely is a need for anger right now – deep anger, anger that motivates us to act, to stand up against hate and violence and bigotry. But this card is a reminder that anger can be wielded in many ways, and petty anger right now is not helpful.)

The Page of Cups as the “why” for The Fool as my right path speaks so gently to me about deep love, about making space for the overflowing cup of emotions in my self and my communities. Moving forward heart-first and with love. Finding healing.

These cards tell me a story of moving forward bravely and authentically, engaging my emotional self in the work.

In contrast, the wrong path: The Hanged Man. Motionless, trapped, upside down, disoriented. This path is so tempting, because that Wheel has turned and the world does seem so upside down (it seems that way to me, from my position of privilege. I know that for many people of colour, and especially Black women and Indigenous communities, this is not a turning of the Wheel but an acknowledgement of the rubble they’ve been buried under for generations. My shock betrays my privilege.)

Why is this the wrong path: Two of Swords. Because now is not the time for weighing both sides of the debate. Allowing myself to be bound by the feelings of helplessness and horror, and trying to intellectualize an understanding of how this happened rather than moving forward along the path. It will lead to a stalemate, an impasse, an inability to engage with the emotions that need to be felt. In so many ways, it is the exact opposite of the Page of Cups and her watery wholeheartedness. This sharp, airy, arid immobilization is why letting myself hang upside down in horror is not the response right now.

I am reminded, again, of the talk I saw late last week with G. Willow Wilson, the fantastic creator of the new Ms. Marvel, Kamala Khan – Marvel’s first Muslim superhero. Wilson said that sometimes, the mess stays messy. Sometimes there is not a way out, but there is always a way forward. This sentiment has become the guiding principle in how I’m shaping all of my coaching materials – moving away from the victim-blaming “law of attraction” model of coaching and towards something that acknowledges systemic oppression, takes into account the ways in which there is not always a way out, and offers tools and support for moving forward.

I am going to keep moving forward.

I’m grateful for the power of narrative, and the ability of stories to provide hope and inspiration. When I look at the Page of Cups and the Two of Swords, I know which character I want to inhabit. When I look at The Fool and The Hanged Man, I know which one I want to be right now.

Let’s go. Foolishly, bravely, forward.

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Emergency tarot

Sitting in the car, kids cranky, both of us stressed and grumpy, heading to the zoo. Feeling overwhelmed and stretched too thin. Shuffling tarot with an inner scream of ‘help!!!!’

Nine of Wands for myself. It’s heavy but it’s not too heavy. You’ll make it. You’ve got the resources. The elf warrior on the Shadowscapes Nine of Wands is full of resolve. The colours are strong. It will be okay. I read this for this moment and also for the wider moment. I have spent the day panicking about to do lists and endless obligations. A messy house, paperwork, deadlines already missed. The Nine of Wands sees it, breathes into it, reassures. 

And Judgement for my partner. The choice is made and it will be okay. A big card for a small moment. Is it a terrible idea to go to the zoo on so few resources with cranky kids? It doesn’t matter, says Judgement. The decision is made, and it will be okay. Breathe. Breathe and keep breathing. 

Shuffle my deck with a sigh of relief, put it back in my jacket pocket just as we pull into the parking lot. 

Post this, because sometimes it’s enough to do a thing even if it’s just a small thing. 

Thirty five

It was my thirty fifth birthday two days ago and I started this post in the bathroom that evening, supervising a splashy five year old kid – a kid I love – while my partner carved crockpot chickens for supper and the two year old watched Super Why. 

I got one sentence written before the bath was done. Dinner took over an hour, and at no point did the four of us sit at the table together. I tried to make my birthday cake three times before I finally succeeded once both kids were in bed, and it came out of the oven at 9 pm, shortly after my friend came over to talk about poly and navigating non-normative relationships while being saturated in endless normativity in our media and societal assumptions. 

Then it was the morning, more than twelve hours after I started this post. I was awake with the kids, since my partner got up with them the last few mornings. Step parenting is tough, but I love it. I love these kids, and I love being on such a functional team with my partner. But it’s hard to find time to write, time to think, time to do the self-care that is so important to me. It’s hard to find time for tarot, or tea, or much of anything. I’m always busy these days, it seems. With the kids, and seemingly endless part-time jobs – data entry and petsitting and admin work and anything else that comes up that can knock a few hundred off the credit cards. 

The lead up to this birthday was tough. 

I’ve been feeling like a failure – so many parts of my life are in transition and it’s hard to see progress in the middle of the process. 

I got this far in the post and then the kids needed food and my partner was awake and I was making brunch for friends and I didn’t get back to it for another day. I’m finishing it in the car while the two year old sleeps. Once she wakes up, we will join her cousin’s birthday party, happening at the park just outside the car door. Life offers so many metaphors. 

I’m thirty five now. 

This year feels important, and challenging. My goal is to have thirty five moments of celebration, and to keep track of them here. To fill my cup, to inhabit my Queen of Cups self. 

Onward!


Week 1 Reading: The Reader’s Reading

The Little Red Tarot "Reader's Reading" spread, using the Shadowscapes tarot
The Little Red Tarot “Reader’s Reading” spread, using the Shadowscapes tarot
The Reader's Reading from the Little Red Tarot Alternative Tarot Reading course (highly recommended!)
The Reader’s Reading from the Little Red Tarot Alternative Tarot Reading course (highly recommended!)

1.   About you in general: what is your most important characteristic?

The Hanged Man

I have some feelings about this. It was hard for me to interpret, to accept. My most important characteristic is my inability to move? Wow. Fuck you, tarot deck. But, as I wrote about when I drew this as yesterday’s card of the day, The Hanged Man is not just immobilization and powerlessness. There’s also a willingness to look at the world from a different perspective, and an acceptance of the “what is”ness of what is.

In this case, I read “most important characteristic” not to mean the characteristic that I already possess and that is important, but the characteristic that I am working on. And in that way, this card feels right and perfect for me right now. A willingness to accept, to allow, to “hang in there” and to take time to allow myself to really gain perspective – those are characteristics I am trying to cultivate in myself. And also, a willingness to recognize when I am not in control, to recognize that in many instances I have never been in control (of other people, for example) – that feels important. Critically important.
2.   What strengths do you already have as a tarot reader, what are you bringing to this course?

King of Swords

I read this as my intellect, my careful weighing of multiple sides of an issue, my contemplative nature. The card itself feels sad and lonely to me. I’ve drawn this card twice as representative of me, my strengths, and what I bring to a situation. This feels sad to me. Lonely. Isolated. Myself and my thoughts. I am trying to reconcile myself with this as a strength, to let myself sit with this part of myself that I do not love so much – time alone, with my thoughts.

Rachel Pollack identifies the court cards in the suit of swords as “battle, powerful mind, discipline” and suggests that a hero in this suit might be Batman. When I read that, I thought – okay. Yes. I’ll take it.
3.   What limits do you feel as you start this course?

Queen of Cups

I wrote about the Queen of Cups before, and it was difficult to think of this as a limit. I’m still processing this. My emotionality limits me here? Yes, I suppose so.

But it also occurs to me, having now sat with this reading for a couple days, that perhaps the limit being highlighted here is that I am not allowing enough of the Queen of Cups in my life. I’m not trusting my heart, not listening to my heart – I mean, there is a lot of Big Feels happening in me, but where is the space to listen to what this heart really needs? Where is the calm? Where is the confidence in my intuition and my emotions and my self-knowledge? Where is my self-knowledge? Am I too attached to a specific outcome to be able to think clearly about the present situation, or other possible outcomes? The Queen of Cups is emotion, yes, but also surety in her experience of that emotion. I don’t have that right now. I think I am going to have to keep sitting with this.
4.   What key lesson can you learn on your developmental journey with tarot?

Page of Cups

From the companion book:

The Page of Cups is sentimental. She is a true romantic at heart, and in a world that is filled with so much noise and bustle, she longs for the time and space to simply breathe and to truly take in the pleasures that abound. She listens to the still voice from deep inside that speaks with understanding and intuition, and she longs to believe in the impossible.

This feels so right and encouraging for me. This feels like a very good companion card to the Queen of Cups in this journey.
5.   How can you be open to learning and developing on this journey?

The Sun

When I refer to the actual sun, the one up in the sky, I call it the Evil Day Star. I’ve never had an affinity for the sun, for bright cloudless skies and hot days. No. Give me clouds and warm rain, give me moonlight.

But.

The Sun (and the sun) are energy. Movement. Life. And I’ve got a lot of Hanged Man energy, a lot of Pentacles energy, weighing me down. Being open to some “go get ’em” isn’t such a bad thing.
6.   What is the potential outcome of your tarot journey?­­­

Four of Swords

I love this. The idea that tarot can give me a space to rest, some respite from the anxiety and sadness that weighs so heavily on me… Not only does this feel hopeful and calming, it also feels accurate. So far, tarot really has given me a deep sense of calm and a focus for the chaotic, frantic, anxious energy that marks my days, and the despair and hopelessness that haunts my evenings. It helps that the Shadowscapes deck is so gentle and welcoming, but I think it’s more than that. It’s a deep immersion in metaphor, an opportunity to pause, to form a question from the chaos of my thoughts, to sit with the many possible answers that present themselves. Tarot fits beautifully with the other mindfulness practices I have started to bring into my days – meditation, and play, and a focus on more material self-care (food, and breath, and time in nature).

The card I’m taking forward with me through the course is… I don’t know. It feels like it should be the Queen of Cups for continuity, but honestly, today, feeling as low as I am and as drained and sad and discouraged… I’m going to take the Four of Swords. Give me some rest, please. Give me some respite. Give me calm. Give me the strength to stay still, to step back, to take the space I need to move more fully into my life. That’s what I need, I think. That’s what I’m hoping for.

Taking Heart

Shadowscapes Tarot, Queen of Cups, Stephanie Pui-Mun Law

I am in the middle of a difficult time. Difficult, but productive. For the first time in a very long time, I’m allowing myself to explore my spirituality. I got my heart broke, hella broke, but the connection that left my heart so vulnerable also reminded me of important things that have been abandoned for a long time. It reminded me of a connectedness and openness that I had forgotten was possible, and that I now know is needed. A desire for a ritual, for the mindful acts that bring me deeply into my body and my soul. A desire for a spiritual practice that somehow also fits with my skepticism. A way to heal, not only this present pain but also the past traumas that have shaped me, and to reconnect with myself.

Part of this process is Tarot. Learning to listen to myself in moments of despair or desire, learning to listen to my heart. I love the Queen of Cups for the way she captures the essence of what I’m hoping to find for myself. This description (from a reading done for her) from Little Red Tarot really resonates for me:

“…lead with your heart, but don’t lose your heart. This Queen looks to her intuition to make mature, informed decisions from a point of personal power and strength. Just because she is the Queen of emotions, doesn’t mean it isn’t backed by a heaping helping of sensibility and foresight that has been fine-tuned over years of experience. … [S]he knows that sometimes you offer the cup and the receiver drinks it all greedily; but sometimes – when you offer it to someone worthy – it is a drink that is shared.”

And from the companion to my own Shadowscapes deck (the image above):

“Her very being is a creative nexus, she is poetry in motion, imagination incarnate. She can dance upon the swells of the ever-shifting, ever-changing seas, in unison with the dance of life that engages all the world and its creatures around her. Guided by instincts, she is attuned to that otherworld and finds joy in that communion of kindred spirits. For another who did not comprehend her synchronicity, a mistep from her position would mean a plunge into unfathomed depths, but not so for the Queen of Cups. She dances on, embraced by the endless azure ocean and heavens, and where the sea meets the sky there is no seam.”

The ability to misstep, to make mistakes, and to dance on – that’s what I’m hoping to find. A little less perfectionism, less control. A little more balance, more intuition, more trust. And a queen, like Beth at Little Red Tarot describes:

Queen

This person is more mature still, having a deeper understanding of their suit and how it works within themselves. They know how to use their powers creatively to develop as people, and how to share this with others. They are able to exude the power of their suit, helping others to enjoy and develop that element of themselves, too.

A deeper understanding of the suit of Cups is something I need, especially as I navigate this time of deep and overwhelming emotion. If I can find a way to mature into and through this, then I think this heartbreak and grief will be an incredibly valuable gift. Again at Little Red Tarot, the Cups are described:

The Cups are the cards that look at what lies beneath the surface including secret pains, emotional heartache and triumphs, memory, and the stuff that makes up our inner world. The Cups can be sources of great nourishment and healing, helping us to reach depths we did not think possible, and revealing to us the complexity of our emotional resilience. They can also show us where we are struggling to stay afloat and how our inner and emotional world can feel out of control, far away or a sea storm of confusion.

This blog is mostly for my Tarot journey, but also for the other elements of my spiritual exploration. Tending to my inner garden, and honouring that process. Letting the seeds that have been planted with my now-distant love and in my own heart grow into whatever they will be, and trying to use this as an opportunity to grow, and shift, and become more deeply rooted and more solidly self-aware and more meaningfully mindful in my engagement with myself, and others, and the world around me.

I am taking heart, accepting this cup, moving onward and inward.

Card of the Day with Commentary – Four of Wands, Two of Wands, Judgement

I did the “Card of the day with commentary” from my Complete Book of Tarot Spreads.

The Shadowscapes deck doesn’t really have reversals, but in today’s spread they felt really important, so I used the Little Red Tarot wisdom on reversals when I interpreted this.

The card of the day was the (reversed) Four of Wands. I don’t normally do anything with reversals, but I drew this one reversed, and when I looked at it – so bright and joyful and triumphant, I felt my heart sinking. This isn’t me, not right now. Today, the whole day, has been heavy and I feel like Sisyphus, pushing that fucking boulder forever. It feels hopeless. Where is the “Celebration, freedom, harmony, prosperity, peace, letting go of limitations, jubulation“? The reversal felt right.

Both the “fear of” and the “blocking of” reversal interpretations feel like they apply. There is actually a lot of joy in my life right now, but I have so much trouble feeling it because things have also been so stressful and overwhelming. Not just the ongoing process of grieving my distant love and hoping for a future together, but also our new house presenting endless (expensive) problems, and the difficult (holy fuck, so difficult) process of dealing with my codependent patterns and trying to process old pain. It’s been a lot. It overshadows the joy, and I will admit that there is also an element of martyrdom in it. If I just suffer hard enough, I’ll be rewarded with joy, right? And on the flip side, if I don’t suffer endlessly, I’ll never get what I want because… I don’t know. Latent Calvinism? I don’t know.

So my card of the day has forced me to think about why I am so afraid of joy and celebration, and what I am doing to block myself from feeling it. It also made me think about Brenè Brown’s discussion of “fearful joy” as one way to avoid vulnerability, which is something I’ve been starting to notice in myself more and more. It was a good reminder that there is nothing inherently noble in suffering, and that denying myself the freedom to taste the sweet and the bitter in some misguided attempt to store up the sweet for some perfect future time is a little bit misguided. (Where “little bit” means “an awful lot.”)

The second card, representing the present situation/what is on your mind, was also reversed. The Two of Wands, “Personal power and influence, authority, courage.” Again, “fear of” and “blocking of” apply, because I have felt so deeply that I have no power in the situations that are most painful, no influence, no authority, and very little courage. But that’s not true. It is absolutely true that I don’t have any influence over what is happening in my love’s life and with their choices, but you can’t read Tarot for someone who isn’t there, and this spread is for me. I do have personal power, influence, and definitely authority over my own life. I can make choices that are right for me, and that move me in the direction I need to go. But I don’t want to. I don’t want that responsibility. I don’t want that weight. I don’t want to do this work. I’m tired. I’m sad. I’m discouraged. I want to stay in bed until everything is sorted out, and then step into my life once it’s better.

But I can’t. That’s not how it works. (And I know that – I do. I just don’t want to know it and don’t want to act on it.)

The last card, the background of the day’s events, is Judgement. Choices. Yeah, ya think? I laughed when I saw it.

And then I made a choice. I flipped the reversed cards right side up. I started a blog. I took a deep breath.

I can’t make choices for anyone else, but I can make them for myself. And I am.